Step Up for Soldiers and Hometown Wilmington Media have teamed up for the 19th “Packages from Home” collection drive.
The goal is to collect donations and comfort items to send care packages to troops serving in Afghanistan, according to Tom Russell, founder and president of Step Up for Soldiers, a local, all-volunteer nonprofit.
Previous collection drives have provided more than 4,000 soldiers with care packages from home. There are two collection drives each year—one during the holidays and another to coincide with the Fourth of July. Geico is this year’s corporate sponsor.
“We try to get anything that’s easy to clean, easy to eat, easy to carry,” Russell said. “A lot of these guys are living in not the conditions that we would like to have them living in. So when they go out on patrols we want to give them things that they can easily carry, eat and clean.”
Donations will be accepted through July 30.
“I’m always amazed at the different things people do send—there’s candy, there’s hand warmers, there’s socks, there’s shirts. They live in conditions that we don’t understand,” Russell said. “So much has changed. When I was in Vietnam we used to go home every night. I was in an assault helicopter squad and we’d fly home back to our base.
“These guys are living in the middle of nowhere. God bless ‘em.”
Most-requested items include socks, hand warmers, beef jerky, moist wipes, toothpaste, dental floss and toothbrushes. (See list of suggested items below.)
Books and magazines will not be accepted because they’re too expensive to ship, Russell said. Monetary donations payable to Step Up for Soldiers are accepted to help offset the shipping cost of the care packages. Each package costs more than $13 to ship.
Donated items can be dropped off at Hometown Wilmington Media, 122 Cinema Drive. If a church group or other organization collects packages, Russell will pick up the items. He can be reached at (910) 297-4981.
To learn more about Step Up for Soldiers and their ongoing efforts to help troops and veterans, click here.
• Phone cards
• Baby wipes
• Beef jerky
• Hard candy
• Travel-size games
• Playing cards
• Pocket knife/multi-tool
• Powered drinks
• Socks and underwear
• Body spray/body wash
• Blue and black pens
• Pictures from home
• Thumb tacks
• Digital or disposable camera
• Fly paper
• Puzzles, crosswords